NOAA awards oys­ter restora­tion fund­ing

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By JOSH BOLLINGER jbollinger@star­dem.com

CAM­BRIDGE — Mar yland oys­ter restora­tion got a boost in fed­eral fund­ing from the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Sens. Bar­bara Mikul­ski and Ben Cardin, both D-Md., an­nounced Tues­day, Aug. 30, that the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources was awarded $800,000 in NOAA fund­ing

to go to oys­ter restora­tion ac­tiv­i­ties in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

Ac­cord­ing to NOAA spokesper­son Kim Couranz, the co­op­er­a­tive agree­ment be­tween NOAA and DNR states that the money in fis­cal year 2016 fund­ing would go to sup­port largescale oys­ter restora­tion in Mary­land wa­ters, sup­port­ing pro­duc­tion of spat (baby oys­ters) on shell pro­duc­tion that will be planted pri­mar­ily in the Tred Avon and Lit­tle Chop­tank rivers.

“It could sup­port re­seed­ing in Har­ris Creek if needed, as well as seed­ing in two as-yet-to-be-se­lected trib­u­taries,” Couranz wrote in an email.

Mary­land has three oys­ter

sanc­tu­ar­ies, one in each Har­ris Creek, the Tred Avon River and Lit­tle Chop­tank River. The Mary­land Oys­ter Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion is tasked to find two more trib­u­taries to re­store, as per goal set in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Wa­ter­shed Agree­ment that five trib­u­taries be re­stored in Mary­land by 2025. Vir­ginia is also re­quired to re­store the oys­ter pop­u­la­tion in five trib­u­taries within its state wa­ters.

“The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay is part of who we are as Mary­lan­ders — it is part of our her­itage and part of our cul­ture — and it’s our great­est nat­u­ral re­source,” said Mikul­ski, who is vice chair­man of the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on Com­merce, Jus­tice and Science, which funds NOAA. “This fund­ing is a fed­eral in­vest­ment in the lives and liveli­hoods that de­pend on the Bay.”

NOAA has cho­sen the Chop­tank River Wa­ter­shed as a “Habi­tat Fo­cus Area,” so the fund­ing sup­ports that work as well.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers, an­other part­ner in Mary­land oys­ter restora­tion, is cur­rently un­der­go­ing a process to iden­tify more reefs in the Tred Avon River for restora­tion.

So far, 35 acres of sub­strate — or ar­ti­fi­cial reef con­structed from stone or mixed shell — and seed-only plant­ing have been com­pleted in the Tred Avon River. The goal is to re­store 146 acres in the Tred Avon, a mix of seeded ar­ti­fi­cial reef or planted shell with baby oys­ters (spat-on-shell).

DNR plans to use the fed­eral money to pro­duce and plant 1.5 bil­lion hatch­ery seeds — from the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Science’s Horn Point Lab­o­ra­tory in Cam­bridge — in three years and ap­ply con­sis­tent mon­i­tor­ing pro­to­cols to eval­u­ate project per­for­mance.

“This fund­ing also pro­vides for the con­tin­u­a­tion of the on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing ef­forts that have al­lowed us to clearly doc­u­ments the tremen­dous pop­u­la­tion gains notched by habi­tat restora­tion projects in Mary­land’s oys­ter sanc­tu­ar­ies, where fed­eral, state and lo­cal part­ners have worked to­gether to de­liver some of the world’s most suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery ef­forts,” Cardin said.

PHOTO BY LAURA WORMUTH

A pile of wild har­vest oys­ters is ready for shuck­ing in this 2016 file photo. Mary­land oys­ter restora­tion ef­forts got a boost in fund­ing last week when the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion awarded $800,000 to the Mary­land De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

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